NFC North Notes: Bears, Lions, Packers, Vikings

     

Bears

There have been multiple reports out of Bears training camp that the offense and third-year QB Mitch Trubisky have been struggling, with Trubisky, in particular, playing unevenly as he works to take the next step in commanding HC Matt Nagy‘s offense. However, Bears backup QB Chase Daniel says to pump the brakes on making any definitive judgements based of practice mistakes. 

“OTAs and training camp are the time to test things with quarterbacks and then you sort of focus come game time,” Daniel said via the Athletic’s Adam Jahns. “Maybe, there’s a couple plays out there in training camp that you’re going to throw a ball, try to squeeze it in a tight window. Sometimes in games, you’re like, ‘Nah, let me just find my back, check it down. It’s not worth it.’ ”

As the team wraps up training camp and continues to work through the preseason, Nagy says he’s feeling “cautiously optimistic” about the offense. He discussed pulling back from the testing phase with Trubisky and the two will now try to hone in on what works well and what doesn’t work as well. 

“We had a really good talk [Tuesday] morning in regards to, ‘You can kind of pull back, now that we’re in our own territory, our own offices.’” Nagy said via Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I get to kind of hear how he thinks things went and he can hear how I think things went, where are we going with this thing collectively — because that’s what it’s all about. And right now we’re both really happy, we’re excited. And I think I’m cautiously optimistic about our offense in general, and just our team.”

For what it’s worth, the defense Trubisky practices against in Chicago deserves some credit as well for some of the rough days, according to people with the Bears. 

“They’re testing things out (offensively) and sometimes you have to credit our defense, too,” Bears GM Ryan Pace said. “We have a great defense that (is) flying around right now. We got a lot of good players on that side of the ball. It’s a little bit of both. It’s an offense that’s growing. We’re trying new things with a lot of new pieces — and we’ve got a really good defense.”

  • NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero says Nagy told him Trubisky is “way past” where he was last year in terms of reading the defense. 
  • According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the Browns were able to get more for RB Duke Johnson than the Bears did for RB Jordan Howard because Johnson was under contract for three more years. 
  • Biggs adds that Johnson’s skill set as a pass-catcher also likely helped the Browns net a potential third-round pick, as opposed to the potential fifth-round pick the Bears got from the Eagles for Howard who’s a more limited player. 
  • Biggs says WR Taylor Gabriel might need to increase his production to see the third year of his contract, who will count $6.5 million against the cap the next two years. Chicago would save $4.5 million by releasing him in 2020.
  • Biggs expects WR Javon Wims to make the final roster. 

Lions

According to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein, Lions G Joe Dahl‘s new deal includes: 

  • 2019: $720,000 base salary fully guaranteed and a signing bonus of $750,000
  • 2020: $1.1 million base salary guaranteed for injury and fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the league year, $100,000 total in per-game active roster bonuses and a $50,000 workout bonus. 
  • 2021: $1.4 million base salary; $50,000 roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year, $100,000 total in per-game active roster bonuses and a $50,000 workout bonus.

Packers 

The Packers were criticized in the past for a lack of schematic creativity on offense. So far under new HC Matt LaFleur, that’s looking different as LaFleur installs a similar offense to the one that has lit up the league with the Falcons and Rams in recent years. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers said he’s still learning the offense, but he loves what he’s seeing so far. 

“A lot of it is different,” Rodgers said via NBC Sports’ Peter King. “The NFL is a copycat league and there’s a lot of similar concepts. But it’s definitely different than the last 11 years and we’ve been doing. It’s fun. It’s stuff you’ve seen the Rams do and Atlanta do and San Fran. We all watch football. We’re all fans. We watch and think, That play’s pretty cool.‘ Now you’re sitting in an install meeting and you’re like, ‘Hey, that was that play from this game. That’s the one from the LA.-Minnesota game that we saw.’ Definitely a lot more studying. I don’t know this like the back of my hand like I did the last offense yet, but I’m getting there.”

Vikings

Vikings HC Mike Zimmer said their lack of depth in the defensive backfield could lead to them keeping an extra linebacker or lineman on the active roster, while they could also have “one less running back.”  

I don’t know that we’re real deep in the secondary,” said Zimmer, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “So that might lend itself (to an extra LB). May keep an extra defensive lineman, less in the secondary and maybe keep one less running back. It all will work out.’

Vikings P Matt Wile feels he can “really lock in and focus” now that the team is down to one long snapper in Austin Cutting after releasing Kevin McDermott. 

We can really lock in and focus,” said Wile, via Tomasson. “They’re both great snappers but you always have to adjust. Each one snaps the ball differently. But now I can always just focus in and only have to worry about one snap always which will be nice.” 

  • Per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, Vikings S Anthony Harris would love to remain with the Vikings when his restricted tender expires following the 2019 season: “Yeah I started out here. It’s been great. I’ve gotten the opportunity to climb and grow each year. Right now, I’m just taking it all in and trying to be the best player I can be.”
  • Vikings DE Tashawn Bower tore his Achilles back in March but says he’s still aiming to return to the field this season: “I was coming out of a break & it just kind of tore on me. It sucks. … You want to get back as soon as possible, but… you can’t rush this one… I have a lot to show and a lot to prove.” (Tomasson)

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